The Peaceful Warrior

Just recently, I watched a film entitled Peaceful Warrior: simple lessons cloaked in a modern teaching tale. Based on a true story, this is the struggle of a young man’s journey to find himself after a potentially debilitating accident.

The underlying teachings speak to each one of us, as long as we can stay present to listen. Several key phrases are: “All you have is right now. You can live a whole lifetime without ever being awake. People are not their thoughts. Stop gathering information from the outside; start gathering it from the inside.”

At one point, the student turned to his teacher remarking, “You are out of your mind.”

The teacher, played by Nick Nolte working as a gas station attendant, replied, “It has taken a lifetime of practice.” He went on to explain that some times you have to “lose your mind to come to your senses.”

If there are no “ordinary moments,” and if all that we have is “right now,” shouldn’t we be looking for the purpose in every action that we take or every obstacle that we encounter? If a “warrior acts” and a “fool reacts,” perhaps it is time to become conscious of the choices that we make and revisit the stories that we tell ourselves.

Peaceful Warrior is a worthy watch. It will touch on your vulnerability, arouse your curiosity and quietly challenge you to awaken to the very moments that make up your life.

Image: Tdukes, UK, 2005

By |September 16th, 2014|Categories: Mastery|0 Comments

Innate Wildness

Image: Tdukes, Kauai, 2011

“Anyone who stays long enough in [a] landscape… will eventually absorb some of what is wild about the place and come to realize that they are as much a part of it as the flora and fauna around them, and that their own innate wildness is affecting the place as much as the place affects them.” –Mark Dowie, The Fiction of Wildness

By |August 24th, 2014|Categories: Mastery|0 Comments


Landmines are abundant in Afghanistan. They are present even though they can’t be seen: buried in land, abandoned to the Earth. Intended for war, they victimize the innocent. One step, one footfall, one active landmine and humanity destroyed: legs torn to shreds, bodies mangled. Women, children, farmers, fathers: random victims of latent hostility. The ever-present invisible enemy.

There are those who have no choice but to expose themselves to this daily danger. For them, walking the enemy line has become a way of life. Yet, for those of us miles away, we can only imagine the horror. War-torn living has not touched our shores, just our newsprint.

Hope shines brightly in these darkened times. Fearless visionaries make statements through their actions and once again tilt the hand of faith. Roots of Peace, a nonprofit based in San Rafael, California, makes it their life work to unearth landmines and transform areas ravaged by war into sustainable cropland. In many parts of Afghanistan, almonds and grapes now grace a country where the earth was once the enemy.

In Kabul, where warring factors leave casualties in their wake, Emergency, an Italian-based nonprofit, admits anyone in need of their services regardless of their political affiliation. Within their walls, “a patient is a patient.” Pacifist in origin, the hospital remains a neutral ground in an otherwise war-torn land.

As war destroys, human spirit prevails. Out of darkness, those fearless in their cause, believers in their calling, map a world where fruit trees flourish and healing enemies lie next to one another in hospital beds. These visionaries have touched a land, a people and a world. They have given hope to the hopeless and home to the homeless. They have made miracles amidst the minefields. ~ S.Dukes


By |August 18th, 2014|Categories: Healing|1 Comment


Written by Kate Levinson, PhD, emotional currency is a book about building a healthy relationship to money, and it is a woman’s guide. But really, it is more than either of these descriptions. It speaks deeply and powerfully to an unconscious change that is taking place in our society, our culture and the world at large. It speaks to an awakening at the personal level as to why we do what we do and feel what we feel when it comes to spending money. Be it power, dependence, hunger or greed, the roots of spending are rooted deeply within our psyches.

In our current Market Economy, we no longer have to beg, borrow or steal; we simply have to “buy.” This purchase power limits our relationship to the cashier or the sales person foregoing any vulnerability at feeling beholden to a neighbor, relative or friend. In the digital marketplace, the button on our computer has replaced the salesperson leaving us isolated and removed from the story, the smile and the repartee that so often accompanies a purchase. Yet, bottom line: people need connection, relationship nourishes the soul feeding the void that consumerism attempts to fill.

Kate Levinson acknowledges that out of this need, both financial and emotional, people have begun “doing it, making it, or growing and harvesting it.” Dr. Levinson states that it is our own feelings about money that create the problem. In speaking openly, she relates, “money was walking hand in hand with my fears about life.”

Emotional currency uses case study and inquiry to unravel and untangle our unconscious relationship to the money we have, the money we earn, and the money we spend, squander or save. It is truly a guide for all genders of all income brackets. ~Sdukes

By |August 12th, 2014|Categories: Mastery|0 Comments

Making Memories Moving Forward

Our 1890’s Queen Anne Victorian stood tall against the morning light. This was the day to say goodbye to a home that housed a thousand memories. As I approached the door, I turned the knob just so, just so that the key would round the lock and the thick, oak door would ease its way open. The smell of the house enveloped me, and I breathed in its polished wood and once burned embers that still held court in the tiled fireplace. Light poured in through the windows on the second floor landing, and I could almost hear the stampede of feet running up and down the wide, wooden staircase. Although the sound of children had long since gone, their handprints still stained the ceiling where they would often slap before leaping to the floor.

It was daunting to think of emptying a place called home. It wasn’t just the furniture, the artwork, the pots and pans; it was the unraveling of times gone by. As boxes mounted and rugs were rolled, what was once so intricate a tapestry, became just objects to store or move or to get rid of. Free of projection, removed from context, my dad’s dresser became a great piece for the group home, our farm table became a hot Craigslist item, and the letting go became liberating.

Memories are made, remembered and made again stringing together the many days of our lives. Activated by our senses, we can always go back: the smell of a cook fire, the fragrance of a rose, the way the sun hits the water, the sound of the fog horn in the night.

Freedom comes at a price; it always has. Letting go took time; it took the release of years saved for some future date; it took surrender; it took the relinquishing of an ideology that was no longer supportive. However, in the goodbye came a quiet hello. Hello to choice, the choice to choose consciously those objects that carry light and speak gently to the heart; the choice to say hello to a new dawn unconditioned by the past. Hello and welcome. ~ S. Dukes

Image: Paul Zachman, Providence, 2011


By |August 5th, 2014|Categories: Change|Tags: |3 Comments

Gate Keepers

“A long time ago in China there were cities with high walls surrounding them, with huge, magnificent gates. The gates just weren’t doors for letting people in or out but had great significance.

People believed the city’s soul resided in the gates. Or at least that it should reside there. People would take carts out to old battlefields and gather the bleached bones that were buried there or that lay scattered about. At the entrance to the city they would construct a huge gate and seal the bones inside. They thought that by commemorating them in this way the dead soldiers would continue to guard their town. When the gate was finished, they would bring several dogs over to it, slit their throats and sprinkle their blood on the gate. Only by mixing fresh blood with the dried-out bones would the ancient souls of the dead magically revive.” (Sputnik Sweetheart)

Fresh blood, fresh pain, keeps us aligned with our emotionality and rooted in our being. Entombing our past wounds separates us from the very source of our strength. It is in the struggle that we are able to witness our essential self and use past experience to guide our actions and influence our outcomes. Our true self is revealed when we are called to battle, our wisdom is recognized when we sprinkle our blood, and our soul can thrive knowing that we are willing to suffer to preserve the sacred. ~ S. Dukes

Image: Tdukes, 2011

By |July 23rd, 2014|Categories: Healing|0 Comments

Tasting Sweetness

Trees-0271“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

By |July 19th, 2014|Categories: Mastery|0 Comments

Self-Certainty Crushes Possibility

100_1730“The statues are now only corpses from which the living soul has flown, just as the hymns are words from which belief has fled. The tables of the gods provide no spiritual food and drink, and in his games and festivals man no longer recovers the joyful consciousness of his unity with the divine. The works of the Muse now lack the power of the Spirit, for the Spirit has gained its self-certainty from the crushing of gods and men. They have become what they are for us now—beautiful fruit already picked from the tree, which a friendly Fate has offered us, as a girl might set the fruit before us. It cannot give us the actual life in which they existed, not the tree that bore them, not the earth and the elements which constituted their substance, not the climate which gave them their peculiar character, not the cycle of the changing seasons that governed the process of their growth. So Fate does not restore their world to us along with the works of antique Art, it gives not the spring and summer of the ethical life in which they blossomed and ripened, but only the veiled recollection of that actual world.'” (Hegel Without End. p.26)


Set Your Sails for New Leadership

IMG_2177There is an article in Harvard Business Review entitled, “How Should Your Leaders Behave.” Read it if you can. The List

Consciously act as a role model.

Deliver strong results in the right way.

Build, develop and lead diverse teams.

Motivate others with a vision for the future that can be implemented.

Because these are considered behaviors, they require leadership to prescribe to a level of self-awareness that promotes both reflection and growth. My favorite sentence reads, “Enterprise leaders must value, at their core, each behavior that they expect from others – and themselves – to exhibit and be judged on (p. 40).” Leaders are being called upon to be true from their center, authentic in their approach and aligned at a their core.

Harvard Business Review, October 2013, p. 40.

By |July 7th, 2014|Categories: Leadership|0 Comments

When You Are Stuck – Reach Out For Support

When faced with the necessity for change, moving forward requires both energy and a deep rootedness as you make the necessary adjustments to hold your balance. It is not easy to move forward when thoughts about what was and what isn’t begin to knock you off center. Although learned young, walking required the mastery of one primary skill – step by step. We all took falls along the way, accumulating bumps and bruises packed with memories and tears. Some learned early to reach for support – a wall, a hand, even a knee. Yet, in the end, walking became second nature.

What isn’t always second nature is holding true to our intended path. So many choices, upon so many actions contribute to a life created by decisions and conditioning that over time placed our feet in one direction and then the next.

When the balance begins to shift and we are faced with the inevitability of change, when life’s back-story bleeds heavily into the present, we must have the necessary tools and skills, along with the intention to take the next step to awaken to that which has yet to be revealed. And, even with the best of intentions, the sharpest of tools and the savviest of skills, there can remain an internal pulling and yearning to remain steadfast. Our intention to shift and change will inevitably evoke memories of past stumbles and falls. At times such as these, before mastery has taken root, one needs to remember to reach for the wall, the hand or even the knee. Look for support as you make your way – step by step. Only then will your intended path become second nature.

By |June 30th, 2014|Categories: Mastery, Progress|Tags: |0 Comments